Representation is a core function for the working of educational advocacy and quality improvement. Representation is done centrally towards KTH and THS; and locally within the school.
Among the central representation, there is participation among different committees: University Board, Strategic Council, Faculty Council, Education Council, Employment Council, Third-Level Education Committee, Scholarship Council, Language Committee, Ethics Council, and the Equality Council. We also work together with the school-level PhD Councils to appoint doctoral representatives for interviews or promotions of professors.
Local-level representation is done mostly by the local PhD Council with the Dr. Chapter support, and there might be some level of variance between what every Council do due the different processes at each school.
- (Doctoral) student representation in all decisions and preparatory matters that affect (doctoral) education and conditions for (doctoral) education is a legal right grounded in the higher education act (Högskolelagen 1 kap §4a).
- Appointing (doctoral) student representatives is a legal right bestowed to union of (doctoral) students which has a status as a (doctoral) student union as outlined in the student union ordinance (Studentkårsförordning, §7). In KTH, the PhD chapter at KTH has such a mandate, through its statutory scope of operation at THS and THS status as a student union, where the PhD chapter board assign central doctoral representatives while the PhD school councils assign school-level representatives as per the union delegation order (THS delegationsordning: 1920-KSM5-7.1.5 & 1920-KS-PC-004) and the chapter working directives.
- The time you do as a PhD student representative (within commission-of-trust role, förtroendeuppdrag) counts towards leave-of-absence from the doctoral employment and doctoral education according to the higher education ordinance (Högskoleförordningen, 5 kap §7 and 6 kap §29 respectively). In KTH, there are policies for time compensation: e.g. Dnr930-2005-0345 (school level, t.o.m June 2017), DnrV-2016-0451 (central and national level f.o.m. July 2017).
- The PhD Chapter and PhD school councils are guided by several governing documents, e.g. the PhD Chapter Statutes and PhD Chapter Bylaws and subject to THS statutes and bylaws.
Organising representation can be deemed important for many reasons such as:
1. Legitimacy: PhD representation is part of the bigger picture of students’ right to exercise their influence grounded by the Swedish law whenever decisions are prepared or made within the university that affect education “Studenters rätt att utöva inflytande över utbildningen vid högskolorna” (kap 1, 4a§, Högskolelag (1992:1434)) och “finns det en bestämmelse om studenternas rätt till representation när beslut fattas eller beredning sker” (kap 2, 7§, Högskoleförordning (1993:100) ). As per KTH guideline on student influence such a right to appoint representatives is bestowed to the student union (THS) also grounded in “7 § En studentkår vid en högskola får utse sådana ledamöter i styrelsen som studenterna enligt 2 kap. 4 § högskolelagen (1992:1434) har rätt att utse. En studentkår vid en högskola får också utse och entlediga sådana representanter som avses i 2 kap. 7 § högskolelagen.” Studentkårsförordning (2009:769). THS delegates such decisions to the PhD chapter embodied by its chapter meeting and its executive body the board. Having an organised representation, helps us make our collective efforts properly channeled and systematically heard and debated.
2. Synergies and effectiveness: In order for PhD student influence to work, we need to be communicative in a structured way. This enables us to help each other whenever needed; exchange experiences and knowledge; lobbying effectively to address our issues by solidifying them, raising them at the right forum, venue with the right people, etc. We’ve representatives at THS highest governing bodies, different levels within KTH and different schools (See this diagram for THS/PhD chapter connections within KTH and with other student organisations).
PhD representatives are in principle elected in a bottom up approach and not uncommon being recommended via the schools’ program responsible or research education responsible.